How About Calling It the Search Commercial?

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You have heard it for years now - search needs to be part of an integrated marketing campaign. Either you understand the strength of search, but your boss doesn't, or you and your boss understand it, but the chief marketing officer doesn't.

The pitch is especially challenging when publications like BusinessWeek refer to the "search ad" as ranking "…slightly below 'classified ad' and slightly above a 'poorly Xeroxed Herbalife flyer stapled to a telephone pole.'"

The magazine's description is specifically about a paid search media ad. But if you're not fully aware of the difference between paid and natural, and don't understand the value of search marketing, won't this statement affect your perception of search as a whole?

So allow me this indulgence, if you will, to pontificate yet again on the importance of search. Perhaps this point of view will get you, your boss or the vice president of marketing in the proper mindset to embrace the future of advertising.

In the beginning there was the television commercial, and it was good. In fact, it was better than good; it was great. Your management structure understood the value of TV commercials because it was simple: we ran this spot X number of times and sales went up by Y.

But these days, if those success stories are still around, they are few and far between. Consumers are moving on from simply viewing TV and to tuning into their media solutions of choice - the PC, mobile devices and TiVo, for example. This consumer democracy is making it increasingly difficult for advertisers to blast or push messaging out to the masses.

At the center of the consumer democracy is search, and it has evolved into the primary means by which consumers can get what they want, when they want it. As experts in search marketing, we began singing its praises and yet here we are now, years later, repeating the value over and over again.

Perhaps as an industry we need to put the concept into terms that the Fortune 1000s will understand: "commercial," or more specifically, Search Commercial™. You can either spend millions to run a TV commercial to the passive or distracted consumer with limited analysis of the return, or you can spend a percentage of that and in return receive the Holy Grail of advertising in today's world: the engaged consumer.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines a commercial as "an advertisement broadcast on radio or television." ICrossing defines the search commercial as the most targeted way to reach and resonate with today's consumers. Hopefully, a simple alteration of semantics will help us achieve the a-ha factor we're all waiting for.

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